Aug 20, 2009

The Right Questions for Ministry in a Post-Modern World - Part 2

Wow! Thank you for all the comments on and thoughts on the Facebook page regarding the last blog.

There are several things I want to clear up.

First, when Jesus gave to the church the great commission - "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you," (Matt. 28:19-20) - there are two parts to Jesus' commission:
1) to do whatever it takes to bring new people to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior
2) to make fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

The confessions and the creeds of the church are absolutely necessary. It is the creeds and the confessions that shapes us and helps us to understand who we are.

The church, for almost 2,000 years, has used the creeds and the confessions of the church as the entry point into the life of the faith community. That worked for the great majority of church history because we were living in a Christendom context.

In today's world, people will not care about what the church believes until the world knows that the Christ cares for the world through the church.

Those who do not know Jesus Christ represent an ever growing percentage of the population. It is safe to say that more than 70% of Americans do not affirm Jesus as Lord and Savior, and that number continues to grow on a daily basis.

In order to reach this ever growing number of the population with the good news of Jesus Christ, the church must start engaging people in ways that makes a difference to them. And in the post-modern and post-Christiandom world, folks come to saving faith in Jesus Christ not through the study of the creeds or confessions, but through involvement in causes that are alleviating suffering in the world, and through genuine and authentic communities of Christ-followers.

Once people have made that transition into the community of faith, the creeds and the confessions have a crucial role in articulating our Christian identity as a process of discipleship.

But here's the thing - belonging comes before belief, community comes before confession.

Only after we have earned the right to be heard, are people ready to be taught what it means to be a Christ-follower.

Creeds and confessions are absolutely necessary parts of the discipleship process.

Second, when it comes to reaching those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the traditional models of sharing the creeds and confessions (ie the four spiritual laws, evangelism explosion, etc.) are not as effective as they were a generation ago.

The Christiandom model of church and evangelism is all about bringing people to the church (the building). That's why we're always inviting people to church, rather than inviting people to be a part of something that's actually making a difference in the world and being a part of a genuine and authentic community.

Most of the church's energy and effort is built into bringing people into the church.

But if the majority world who doesn't know Christ as Lord and Savior come to know Christ first through a common cause and genuine communities, then the church must devote its resource of energy, finance, and creativity in developing opportunities for Christ to alleviate suffering in our world and in developing genuine and authentic relationships if the church wants to reach those who don't know Christ.

I know this has been a long entry, but if you've read this far, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Thanks again.

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